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My shopping ban is OVER!

Today is a good day. First, it’s my anniversary with Joe. Holy crap guys, we’ve been married for three years and together for almost eight! That’s so crazy to me.

Second, do you remember when I started a shopping ban in November? Seems like it was just yesterday, right? Well, today marks the end of my six month shopping ban. I can hardly believe it. I’m almost ready to give it six MORE months. But I’m not going to do that. I learned a lot from not shopping and from not blogging my outfits these past six months. Although, I probably should’ve blogged outfits, because it would’ve been interesting to see what I wore for six months without buying anything new. But, alas, I did not.

Did I learn anything? Yes. I am much happier NOT blogging my outfits. I also don’t really enjoy shopping. I like finding inspiration, but find that I am much more comfortable in jeans and t-shirts (my uniform for the past six months!). There is a lot I can talk about that I learned because I stopped shopping or because I stopped outfit blogging, but it’s more in-depth than I want to get in this post. I’ll probably write about it in a few days/weeks, when I’ve really had time to digest/think about things, and can give a really good write-up about if I go online shopping crazy, or if I still hold off a bit.

And yes, I did celebrate the end of my shopping ban with a purchase.

Brand new running shoes! I’m a little crazy, but I signed up for a 5k in July. My friend Emily wanted to do it, so I bit the bullet and signed up. I don’t have to run it, I can walk, cart-wheel or crab-walk (according to the website), which makes me happy. I’m not really a runner, but I have started to take up activities that make me happy and running around Ann Arbor while getting doused in colored powder is one of those things. I can’t wait. My sister is also joining us, and I’m trying to convince her to wear a tutu during the run/walk because it will be funny. We’ll see!

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Land’s End rips off belt design

If you’ve been a reader of mine since the Modcloth scandal of 2010, you know me as someone who will talk about problems I see within the fashion world, even if it leads to an employee leaving me cryptic messages (thanks IP tracking!). Because of that post, Modcloth removed the listing of one of those dresses, and also recognized me and my readers (as well as readers of The Gloss and others who profiled the problem) as a force to be reckoned with.

Recently, it has come to my attention that another company is doing something more devious than just pricing their poly-blend products at astronomical prices.

Land’s End has allegedly taken Kiel James Patrick’s belt design and is selling it as its own design, for about half as much. Here are the two designs, side-by-side:
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A little too similar to be a coincidence, right? They’re even laid out the same way, photographs taken in front of grey backgrounds.

Design stealing is, sadly, nothing new in the fashion world. I found this blog post about LL Bean stealing Eliza B sandal designs (quite brazenly, I might add). Last year, a similar controversy cropped up with US state necklaces and Urban Outfitters. In that case, Urban Outfitters removed the necklace from their site, but as April from Regretsy pointed out, there were many other sellers on Etsy with similar products, so who’s really the originator of the product?

In Kiel James Patrick’s (KJP) case, according to the statement he sent to Ivy Style, he’s not claiming to be the originator of a nautical belt, but created a hand-crafted, high-quality belt that took months to perfect. KJP also says that his designs are not sold to corporations, such as Land’s End, so their seemingly identical design was not created by him, nor is he receiving any payment for it.

We can argue if this is something that we think should go on in the fashion world or if we think it’s right/wrong, but that’s not where I’m taking this discussion. I want to call out Land’s End for their blatant rip-off of a small company (20 employees!), and I want them to remove the belt from their shelves.

As it’s noted on the Ivy Style site, designs cannot be copyrighted. But, most designers (indie or well-known) aren’t going to rip someone else off, because it can be traced, and everyone wants to be original. There is a difference between seeing someone else’s design, being inspired, and creating something you deem as better. Wouldn’t you want to have something better than someone else, not a blatant copy? (Again, I don’t want to argue about fast-fashion and all that - that is not the point of this post.)

Let’s make some waves. KJP already tried to comment on the Land’s End Facebook and Twitter, and Land’s End hasn’t responded. If you take a look at Land’s End’s website, you can leave comments and reviews for products. I suggest we all jump over there and leave comments on the belt, bringing the star (boat) value down to one. Tell them the design is stolen from a small business In Rhode Island. Let’s make Land’s End give us an answer. If they didn’t “steal” the design, there would be no reason for the silence, in my opinion.

By bringing the star value of the product down, and making sure others are aware that the design isn’t original to Land’s End, hopefully Land’s End will be forced to do something about the product (e.g. pull it from the shelves!).

Please head over to the Land’s End website and help KJP get the answers they deserve.

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Problems with Pinterest?

*Let me start this by saying I still have a Pinterest account, and still have my pins visible. My research did not cause me to remove anything I had pinned.

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Lately there has been a lot of talk on the internet about Pinterest and copyright violations. By now, most of us have read this article about a Photographer who looked at the terms of service, and promptly deleted all her boards. Today I see that Flickr has given users an opt in/out to allow their images to be pinned or not. In the article, it points to a link on Flickr’s forum where users were discussing Pinterest and the use of the opt-out button. Many of the commenters were for the opt-out button, and happy their work wouldn’t be taken and pinned to Pinterest without their consent. Although, as one commenter pointed out, if they post an image to a blog (or elsewhere online), it can still be pinned from that location, which is a risk we all take when posting things on the internet. My friend, Carrie, says, “I like that Flickr is going that route. People SHOULD be able to choose whether or not their stuff is pinable by others. That being said, I (mostly) agree with the person in the article who thinks it’s bizarre that people would view Pinterest as such a huge copyright issue.”

As a blogger, I see the need to protect your intellectual property, and wanting to make sure that you get credit for images you create and that they aren’t used for things without your consent. But as a user of Pinterest who has been inspired by images and who loves finding new things, I find myself torn. I have had my images pinned to Pinterest, and find it flattering that someone wants to pin an image of what I’m wearing, or a DIY I did last year. I don’t feel like people are saving my image to use it maliciously, but because they think “oh great idea, come back to it later.”

That’s what I feel Pinterest is, at its core; a great big inspiration board of stuff you like, with links back to the source. But, it appears that even though that might be the thought behind the uber popular website, it’s not something everyone is comfortable with. I reached out to a few bloggers, a photographer, a store owner, and a general user of Pinterest to get their opinions on pinterest and how they feel about this controversy.

Kara, from Unusual Form, says, “As a personal-style blogger, I’m always incredibly flattered when someone pins one of my outfits. It means that I’ve put together an outfit that someone has found interesting or inspiring. One of the reasons that I post my outfits each day is so that I can be an inspiration to my readers. I find a lot of my own inspiration from other blogs as well, so you’ll see that my pin boards are filled with photos of other bloggers. Isn’t that what blogging is all about? Sharing?

Kara is one of the Pinterest users I follow, and I’m always quick to repin something she posts that I find inspiring, and I’ve noticed she does the same to things I post. That, in its essence, is what Pinterest is about.

Another person I’m constantly repining is Neeka, owner of AnikaBurke.com. Since Neeka is a frequent user of Pinterest, pinning her deal of the day, lookbook images and inspiration, I thought she would have an interesting point of view on the use of Pinterest. She says she “loves seeing organic pins of [anikaburke.com merchandise and images] on Pinterest.”

When asked if she feels Pinterest is beneficial to her business, driving traffic to her shop, or helping get her store name out there, Neeka says yes. “I find it very beneficial to my business. We are getting more linkbacks to our site without having to pay for them. Pinterest is the second largest traffic generator [for us]. I love Pinterest and can’t wait to see where it goes.”

Interestingly enough, I found many other business on Pinterest, including Karen Kane, Modcloth, Kate Spade and more. Anthropologie has an account, and while they’re following over 4,000 people, they have yet to pin anything themselves. It appears that many businesses are jointing Pinterest, most likely for the same reason Neeka did- free marketing and inspiration.

While all these businesses are fashion-based, I wondered what a different business, such as a photographer would have to say. I found this image from Procopio Photography on Pinterest, and immediately pinned it on one of my own boards.
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(Source: Procopio Photography- used with permission!)

Curiously, I followed it back to the website it’s linked to, which then links to the photographer’s website. I contacted them, to ask how they feel about Pinterest. Cicely says they haven’t “quite formed an opinion about Pinterest yet. It’s funny that you are emailing me about it, because our most recent blog post was the first time we added watermarks. We did that so when pinned, more of our images would be tracked back to us.” You’ll notice that the image I fell in love with was posted prior to their inclusion of watermarks, and can only be traced back to the source by clicking through.

Cicely goes on to say she “loves that [Pinterest] is a new source that people can find us, but I don’t like when images are improperly linked, or not at all, to the source.” Well, therein lies the problem that most people seem to have with Pinterest. The problem seems to be less about Pinterest itself, but more about the link backs, or lack thereof.

Much like the writer of the first post, I found myself perusing Pinterest’s terms of service to see what I got out of it. Boy, you’re not going to like it.

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I am human

This video is amazing. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s about nine minutes long. Watch, enjoy.

(Dear girl at 1:26, me too. Me too.)

The broadcasting team at Liberty Middle School in Madison, Alabama, put together this incredibly powerful video called “I’m Human.” The video features students, faculty, and staff standing against a wall, each holding up a sign that tells you how they’re different. But one thing is the same- they’re all human.

 

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Dear blog…

Some of you may have noticed my silence over here lately. I’ve had a few people check in to make sure things are OK, and I just want to (sort of) assure you they’re as OK as they can be.

Work has been busy, as is normal for a nonprofit in December. I’m also coming up on the one-year anniversary of when we lost my father (if you want some background, read my father’s day post).

It’s because of these reasons, and a few more, that I’ve taken an extended break of sorts from blogging. I’ve been contemplating taking a break, calling it quits, or just pushing through. For now, I’m content with taking a break. I need to reevaluate why I’m blogging and what I want to talk about. I’m no longer interested in taking photos of what I’m wearing all the time and posting them here. For one thing, I’m usually wearing jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and sneakers. Not exactly what I think people are interested in seeing (if you are, let me know). For another, I am just disenchanted with the notion. I’m over that part of my life, and I don’t mind a bit.

You may still see some brief shots of my outfits, or see a post pop-up here or there, but it won’t be as often as it once was.

I have other ideas of what I’d like to talk about, from my growing nerd-y necklace collection, to some fun DIY projects. I also plan to continue to discuss my progress with not shopping (almost done with month two). For now, I’ll probably remain quiet as I make it through the holidays, the anniversary and subsequent weeks of events at work.

I am hopeful that once I make it through this difficult time, I will be better able to decide the fate and direction of this blog. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my posts, and I am thankful for the friends I’ve made along the way.

See you in the new year,

Suze

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No [personal] shopping for six months

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When I announced on Twitter yesterday that I was embarking on a six month self-shopping ban, I was met with many different comments. Some people were amazed by my willpower, and others said they’d never be able to do it. I also had some people ask me what I was going to do about after-holiday sales, how  I’d get people gifts for the holidays and even if I were still planning to go grocery shopping or if I’d become a freegan.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight. Yes, I am going on a shopping ban for the next six months (November 1, 2011- May 1, 2012). No, I’m not planning to become a freegan. No, I’m not trying to make a commentary on our society by not shopping. I’m not looking for attention, notoriety or places to make socioeconomic commentary. I’m merely just trying to save some money, and this is an easy way to do so, that I can control. And my plans for the holidays are to either attempt to make gifts, because I can be crafty, or use Etsy to purchase some really cool small-business made gifts for friends and family. My shopping ban is pretty much just for frivolous things for myself. I am going to set out a few ground rules, and I want you guys to all be aware of them and keep me in check if you think I’ve fallen off the wagon.

  1. If I need new undies or bras, I’m allowed to purchase new ones during the six month period, but ONLY if I actually need new ones. Joe will have final say for this rule.
  2. I am allowed to swap clothes with other bloggers, friends or family. I am also allowed to sell my clothes, but the money cannot be used toward new clothes, it must instead be added to the house fund.
  3. I am allowed to receive gifts of clothing or accessories for the holidays, and if I am given a giftcard, I am allowed to shop with it. But, I cannot spend more than the amount that it is on the card, unless it is less than $1 or covers the sales tax.
  4. Because I work with brands and stores on a fairly regular basis, I am still allowed to accept items for review. These are items that are still within my budget, fit within my disclosure policy and are items I would spend my money on, if I weren’t on a shopping ban. (In addition, any ads I sell will also be put toward our house fund, and not toward my clothing fund). (*edit- I am not actively SEEKING any reviews or items, but I have a few that I haven’t worn/posted about yet that I want to make sure will not be viewed in a negative light because of this ban)

This list will be edited/updated as needed.

The reason I’ve decided on this ban is quite simple. I have too much stuff, and Joe and I would like to buy a house. I’d rather work on saving our money toward a large purchase like that, than buy another $40 skirt I don’t really need. I’m one of those shoppers that likes to be thrifty, but it is so easy for me to start with one $3  from the thrift store, and pick up nine more, meaning I only spent $30, but I now own ten dresses that I think are cute, but I don’t really need.

I’ve discussed my spending habits and our budgeting a little before, and while I’m not going to go into detail because I’m not comfortable plastering that much information about myself all over the internet, I came to the decision that this was the best experiment to try. I mean, let’s all be honest. It’s so easy to head over to Target to grab a gallon of milk and walk out with coffee, a new tank top, a sweater, shoes and a new DVD, but no milk. I’ve seen some people talk about it before, and I’m guilty of that bad habit as well. I want to break that habit.

The clothes I currently own are very nice, and don’t need to be replaced. I’m also not planning to gain/lose a large amount of weight any time soon, so my size shouldn’t fluctuate. If it does, obviously these rules will be reevaluated and things will change.

I’m also planning to be very candid here, and share my successes, my weaknesses, my failures and how the process is going. I know I’m not the first one to go through an exercise like this, and I certainly won’t be the last. But hopefully my attempt at this experiment will help me, as well as at least one of you reading this.

Day 1 is complete. Wish me luck for the remaining 182 days!

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

All over the blogs today, you may notice some lovely bloggers wearing purple to promote Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The color purple has symbolized domestic violence for over 20 years. The origins came from the domestic violence homicide of a leader in the battered women movement. Her mourners wore her favorite color, purple, to demonstrate their grief as well as make a statement against domestic violence.

1 in 3 families are affected by domestic violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors — physical, sexual, psychological, and economic coercion — used by one intimate partner against another (adult or adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use of a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure, and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.

More than three women are murdered everyday by a boyfriend or significant other, and someone is sexually assaulted every 2 ½ minutes.

Sounds scary doesn’t it? But it’s a real issue that many people don’t think about, don’t talk about and certainly don’t promote. But together, with the help of other bloggers, we’re trying to talk about domestic violence.

Let me put some perspective on it for you. In the United States, 1% of people are homeless. 11% go hungry. But 33% are not safe in their own homes.

If you are in danger, please call 911, your local hotline, or (in the U.S.) the National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233 or TTY (800) 787-3224.

*Please note- I work for a nonprofit that works to prevent sexual and domestic violence and to empower survivors through advocacy and social change. I am writing about this topic and asking others to participate because it’s something that needs to be discussed. Please call your local hotline if you need to talk to someone. I am not a trained crisis counselor.

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Goodwill’s fashion show (I didn’t trip!)

Well, Saturday was the Goodwill fashion show, and I didn’t trip. I’m actually quite surprised, because I’m pretty clumsy, and decided to strut my stuff in heels.

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There was a great turn out, and I’m excited to share some photos with you guys! Since there were a bunch of kids involved, I’m only going to share the photos of me, Joe and Katie with you. I don’t want to plaster anyone else’s child on my blog, so just imagine ten really adorable and well-dressed children, ages 3-13.

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Katie rocks out her outfit that cost less than $20.

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Joe looks very HIMYM to me.

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You’ve already seen this outfit on me. My mom now owns the trench, and I own that sweater.

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I LOVE this outfit Katie put together. I think Katie bought all her pieces, which makes me excited. That colorful top was so cute.

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We bought this jacket for Joe. It’s so old school, I think my dad owned a very similar one in the 70s.

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My second look was a really pretty dress and a wool coat with zipper detailing that Erika bought.

Both necklaces and the booties were mine from home. Katie also brought her own shoes, as did Joe.

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore Katie? Seriously. She drove all the way to Canton on a Saturday morning to walk in the show, and her boyfriend came to snap some photos. I wish we could’ve begged him to be in the show too, but I already owe Joe for agreeing to participate on his only day off!

In addition to all of this, Cari from Cash and Cari was on hand, playing emcee.

There were also some other lovely Detroit bloggers on hand, Erika and Inez. My mom even got out of bed on a Saturday to come hang out! (yes, I have an outfit post coming up with that crazy dress I’m wearing in the photo of me and Cari. You guys will LOVE it).

Probably one of the coolest parts of the whole experience was being interviewed by Pedro from the TV show Volunteers. It’s a new show they’re hoping to have on Oprah’s OWN network, and I’m excited I got to be a part of it! (I will work on finding a clip of it).

All photos (minus the one of me and Cari) courtesy of Boxfire Photography. Thanks Tim!!

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October is domestic violence awareness month. Will you wear purple on October 19?

October is not only breast cancer awareness month, it’s also domestic violence awareness month.

Will you join me by wearing purple on October 19 to spread the word that abuse is not love?
I’ve already started wearing purple, and will display my ribbon proudly all month. Please wear purple to show your support.

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Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors — physical, sexual, psychological, and economic coercion — used by one intimate partner against another (adult or adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use of a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure, and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.

1 in 3 families is affected by domestic violence. 11% of people in the United States go hungry, but 33% of people aren’t safe in their own homes.

Please save this ribbon and put it on your blog post on October 19, along with the following paragraph to raise awareness:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
1 in 3 families are affected by domestic violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors — physical, sexual, psychological, and economic coercion — used by one intimate partner against another (adult or adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use of a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure, and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.
If you are in danger, please call 911, your local hotline, or (in the U.S.) the National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233 or TTY (800) 787-3224.